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Mueller Monday: Ex-Trump campaign advisers Papadopoulos, Manafort and Gates indicted

The first shoes have dropped in Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation:

Special prosecutor Robert S. Mueller III on Monday revealed charges against three former Trump campaign officials — former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, his longtime business partner Rick Gates and former Trump foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos — marking the first criminal allegations to come from probes into possible Russian influence in U.S. political affairs.

Papadopoulos pleaded guilty earlier this month to making a false statement to FBI investigators who asked about his contacts with a foreigner who claimed to have high-level Russian connections, and the agreement was unsealed Monday. Court documents described extensive efforts Papadopoulos made to try to broker connections with Russian officials and arrange a meeting between them and the Trump campaign, though some emails show his offers were rebuffed.

Highlighting is ours.

White House resident Donald Trump immediately tried to deflect the news, angrily suggesting his opponents should be the target of any investigation, while also declaring, “there is no COLLUSION!” The more Trump makes such denials, though, the more he reinforces the narrative about potential collusion.

It’s Don’t Think of An Elephant 101:

When we negate a frame, we evoke the frame.

Richard Nixon found that out the hard way. While under pressure to resign during the Watergate scandal, Nixon addressed the nation on TV. He stood before the nation and said, “I am not a crook.” And everybody thought about him as a crook.

Here’s the beginning of The Washington Post’s story about that extraordinary statement, delivered to a gathering of Associated Press editors:

Declaring that “I am not a crook,” President Nixon vigorously defended his record in the Watergate case tonight and said he had never profited from his public service.

“I have earned every cent. And in all of my years of public life I have never obstructed justice,” Mr. Nixon said.

“People have got to know whether or not their President is a crook. Well, I’m not a crook. I’ve earned everything I’ve got.”

Manafort and Gates are due to be arraigned in court today.

(UPDATE: They’ve pled not guilty to the charges, as expected.)

Manafort, as mentioned above in The Washington Post’s story, was the Trump campaign’s chairman for a crucial chunk of 2016, while Gates was his deputy. Manafort came aboard in March of 2016 (bringing Gates with him) and remained at the helm until being ousted in August of 2016.

Manafort and Gates were hired by the Trump operation months after Trump vowed to “surround myself only with the best and most serious people,” in an August 2015 interview. “We want top of the line professionals,” Trump claimed.

How about lying, money laundering criminals?

“You don’t see this sentence every morning: The former campaign chairman of the president of the United States will be charged with a federal crime,” noted David Leonhardt of The New York Times, who pointed out that Trump is an incredibly weak position overall despite having a firm grip on the Republican Party.